Fall 2015 - ONC 502 G100

Concepts in Oncology (3)

Class Number: 9057

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Prerequisites:

    Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.



This course covers the biology and epidemiology of cancer and theories behind prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different types of cancer. A major goal of the course is to integrate knowledge and research on the biology of cancer with all disciplines in oncology. This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD.


This course is offered at: BC Cancer Research Centre, 675 West 10 Avenue, Vancouver

The objective of this course is to have students learn to integrate knowledge and research activities in the biology of cancer with various disciplines in oncology. For example, at the end of the course students should be able to answer questions such as: How do current cancer treatments work and why do they often fail? How do you determine if a population has an increased incidence of a specific cancer due to genetic versus environmental versus lifestyle influences? How does genetic instability contribute to cancer initiation and progression? What are the advantages/difficulties of using gene therapy approaches to treat cancer? What drives the evolution of a cancer cell clone? How do cancer/host interactions limit or promote tumor expansion? What are the ethical issues involved in gathering genetic information for cancer control?

Course Structure: 1.5 hours per session, 2 sessions per week  

Lecture format: The course is divided into sections based on the topics to be covered. Each section consists of two to five classes (1.5 hours per class) and is taught by experts in the field. A total of 22 cancer experts at the BC Cancer Agency are involved in the course. The course director arranges the schedule of experts, attends all lectures, manages the course and assignments and grading.  

Course Content:                                 

  Section Topics
Session 1: General course introduction
  Nature of the cancer problem
Session 2: Cellular pathology of cancer
  Clinical approaches to cancer
  Principles of clinical trials
Session 3: Systemic therapy of cancer, cancer chemotherapy
Session 4: Tumor heterogeneity, drug resistance
Session 5: Current issues in cancer research
Session 6, 7: Radiobiology
Session 8: Clinical radiotherapy
Session 9, 10: Cancer epidemiology
Session 11-14: Lymphoma
Session 15-17: Leukemia
Session 18,19,20: Breast cancer
Session 21, 22, 23: Prostate cancer

NOTE: This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD program.


  • Two short essays (one or two printed pages) 40%
  • Final exam: list of short essay questions, 1 from each section – select 4 to answer 60%


The criteria for the assessment of essays will be the level of students' understanding of the problems discussed in the lectures. The essays and final examination are marked by appropriate instructors. The overall grading is calculated by the course director.



To be assigned by instructor

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html